By James Atkinson

As anticipated, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) used this morning's interim results presentation to announce the first beer brands that will be part of its December launch portfolio. 

The company announced the establishment of a long-term exclusive agreement to distribute the Molson Coors range of premium beers in Australia after 16 December 2013.

CCA managing director, Australian Beverages, John Murphy told analysts the company will focus on the rapidly growing premium and craft segments in its initial assault on the Australian beer market.

He said Molson Coors is "one of the world's top ten global brewers with a powerful brand portfolio".

The Molson Coors range of beers most notably includes the giant US brand, Coors Light, as well as craft beer brands such as Blue Moon and premium European brands such as Staropramen. It is unclear exactly which of the brands will be introduced to Australia.

Interestingly, Molson Coors is a joint venture partner with CCA's Australian rival SABMiller in the US, having formed the MillerCoors entity in 2008.

Higher profile brands coming?

The CCA executives were asked whether they were aiming to get some higher profile brands.

"The beer brands that you've got from Molson Coors don't seem to be terribly big," commented one journalist.

But Davis responded: "Neither was Peroni when we took on Peroni in Australia."

"Some of the successes that Molson Coors has had in other markets would give me a lot of encouragement."

Murphy said there are four or five million consumers in Australia that are travelling at any point in time.

He said CCA's research on the Molson Coors brands it is intending to introduce had found consumer awareness and excitement about these brands was "off the scale from any products we've even seen".

"We're not going to give those products away at this stage, [but] we're very excited about what we can do," Murphy said.

'Number one craft beer' on the way

Murphy did reveal that the Molson Coors brands will include the "number one craft beer in the US".

He did not name the brand, but it was recently identified by Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn as Blue Moon.

Beam deal extended

CCA further announced:

– the extension of the Beam partnership agreement to a new 10 year term to December 2023;

– a long-term exclusive agreement to distribute the C&C Group of beers and ciders in New Zealand and the Pacific region, which includes the Magners cider brand – now set to be distributed in Australia by Bacardi Lion;

– the establishment of an export business for its Fijian company Paradise Beverages, which includes the Fiji Bitter and Bounty Rum range;

– further advancement in the development of a portfolio of Australian premium and craft beers.

One per cent incremental growth targeted

CCA group managing director Terry Davis said the company is targeting over one per cent of incremental EBIT growth from alcoholic beverages from 2014.

"Over the past 12 months we have secured access to a world-class, low cost brewery through the agreement to form a joint venture with Casella and entered into a long-term exclusive agreement to distribute Rekorderlig cider, the number one cider brand in the off-premise sector in Australia." 

"With the announcement today of the exclusive agreement to distribute Molson Coors premium beers in Australia and the C&C Group’s beer and cider portfolio in New Zealand and the Pacific region, together with the development of a domestic premium and craft beer portfolio, we believe we are well positioned to hit the ground running with an expanded alcoholic beverages portfolio for 2014."

Click here for CCA's interim results.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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